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) OF NON-DUAL ŚAIVISM (Lecture at Indian Institute for Advanced Study, Shimla, Oct. 19th 2012)
Death consists of two syllables; the Eternal Brahman consists of three. Death’s two syllables are mama ‘mine’; the three syllables of the Eternal are na mama ‘not mine’. The Brahman and Death, O King, dwell unseen in the bosom of all creatures and stir them ceaselessly. […] If a man should conquer the entire Earth and all that moving and unmoving dwells within it, but within himself develops no idea of appropriation “this Earth is ‘mine’”, what will the Earth that he has conquered be for him? If, on the other hand, O Son of Pṛthu, a man living as a hermit in the forest, feeding on wild herbs, should develop a feeling of belonging toward his poor possessions, this man is living in the jaws of death. […] Men blame one who is penetrated by desire, yet no action is born from the absence of desire, neither generous giving, nor study of the Vedas, nor asceticism: the Vedic rites are nourished by desire. […] Indeed, whatever a man desires for himself is dharma; dharma does not have restriction as its foundation1. To this purpose the wise men of old quoted a few strophes that were sung by Kāma himself. Hear me, O Yudhiṣṭhira, while I now recite all those strophes to you. “No being may think of killing me without recourse to some means. If one seeks to kill me knowing the effectiveness of reciting mantras, in his very recitation I once more show myself. If one seeks to kill me with sacrifices and many offerings to the officiant, I reappear in him as action, as in the beings that move; if one seeks to kill me with the Vedas and the Upaniṣads that bring them to fulfilment, then I reappear in him in a quiescent form, as in motionless things. If one seeks to kill me with fearless perseverance, I show myself in him in his state of noble heroism, and he is not aware of me. If one seeks to kill me through asceticism, then in his ascesis I am reborn in the form of unshakable perseverance. If one, a sage, seeks to kill me by devoting himself wholeheartedly to liberation, I dance and laugh in him, in his passion for liberation. Of all beings, eternal am I alone and I cannot be killed”.2
The passage quoted does not come from just any text, but from the very source of brahmanic culture, the Mahābhārata. Traditionally, it is known as the Kāma-gītā ‘Song of Desire’, the umpteenth variation of an illustrious model, the Bhagavadgītā. To give new vigour to the sovereign Yudhiṣṭhira, now weary and demotivated, Vāsudeva resorts to an injection of desire and who better than Kāma, the divine personification of desire, could accomplish this task?3
My interpretation is diametrically opposed (see Note 3* below) to that given by the principal commentator of the Mahābhārata, Nīlakaṇṭha (16th century). 2 Mahābhārata (Pune critical edition), XIV.13.3-18. 3 I must admit that my interpretation of the meaning of the entire passage (the textual transmission of which is, however, uncertain at several points, with various differences between the vulgata and the Pune critical edition) is
He therefore recites to the King the verses that Kāma once composed in his own selfexaltation. Swarms of similar passages spring to mind from literature throughout the world. One of the many, at the opening of the brilliant libretto of Monteverdi’s Incoronazione di Poppea, the work of Giovanni Francesco Busenello, is where Amore turns to Fortuna and Virtù, each convinced of being the power that drives the world: Che vi credete o Dee / divider fra di voi del mondo tutto / la signoria e ‘l governo, escludendone Amore, / Nume ch’è d’ambe voi tanto maggiore? / Io le virtudi insegno, / io le fortune domo, / questa bambina età / vince d’antichità / il tempo e ogni altro Dio: / gemelli siam l’eternitade ed io. / Riveritemi, adoratemi, / e di vostro sovrano il nome datemi. [Who do you think you are, Goddesses, / to divide between yourselves / the sovereignty and governance of the world / to the exclusion of love,/ a divinity so much greater than the two of you?/ I tell the virtues what to do,/ I govern the fortunes of men. This childlike form of mine / surpasses in antiquity / time itself and every other God./ We are twins, eternity and I. / Revere me,/ worship me/ and acknowledge me as your sovereign.]
The Kāma-gītā shows us the god of desire (kāma, which originally meant just ‘desire’, progressively came to mean desire par excellence, i.e. erotic desire) boasting of lying concealed even in the bosom of what would appear to be his opposite: ascesis. At the same time, however, the opposite is also true, as revealed by the mythology of Śiva, the sovereign creator/destroyer god, at the centre of the spiritual experience of Tantrism, supremely ascetic and simultaneously supremely erotic, whose sexual embraces may last thousands of years. When we seek the source of his sexual energy, we unfailingly come up against tapas, ascesis. The terrible austerities that Śiva can bear – here too, for thousands of years – often include among their results, and sometimes even as their purpose, the regeneration of sexual energy: the contrary is also possible, i.e. that sexual activity produces tapas as its fruit. In iconography, Śiva is usually represented with the attributes of the ascetic: he wears the skin of a black antelope, his head is strewn with ash, he wears skull necklaces, ornaments made of human bones, and is substantially described as an ascetic by the most ancient texts. He - the yogin par excellence (yogīśvara ) – withdraws to the most inaccessible solitudes and drives his tapas to such extreme levels that the force generated thereby yet again, as with sexual power, risks overturning the universe. Only after enormous difficulties does Pārvatī, the daughter of the Himālaya, falling in love with the god, manage to lead him to marriage, i.e. only after she too has practiced tapas. Ordinary life, sensual pleasures seem to Śiva irreconcilable with his nature: his tapas would be hindered by them. Whenever this occurs, his wrath, always primed, explodes. The one who pays for it, in a famous myth cycle with abundant variations, is of course Kāma, the main antagonist of the ascetic Śiva. He attempts to disturb his concentration with one of his amorous darts, now exploiting the inexhaustible desires of Pārvatī, now causing fascinating nymphs to appear. Śiva’s reaction is lethal: the fire from his vertical third eye that opens immediately in his forehead reduces Kāma to cinders. The result is that the whole universe enters upon a spiral of death: colours fade, plants begin to languish, all begins to fade away as in a long twilight, to such a point that Śiva is obliged by the people to bring Kāma back to life.
not at all in line with current brahmanic interpretation, which tends to consider it as a warning against the subtle snares of desire. Whatever the case, even if one admits the ‘ascetic’ intent of its original composer, the entire passage resounds as a paradoxical celebration of the ineludible presence and power of desire.
The total negation of the desire-polarity is unexpected and seems to reduce Śiva to much more circumscribed dimensions. It suffices to consider the sequel of the tale to see that Śiva, to please Pārvatī - or Rati, Kāma’s consort – resurrects the god; or else it shows that the fire of the third eye destroys only Kāma’s body, and that even bodiless he still exists, becoming even more fearsome owing to his invisibility. Significant too is the gist of the gods’ protests to Śiva for his action; they accuse him of killing one of his creatures and, in so doing, to have inexplicably deprived of desire a universe that he himself had created pervaded by desire. The circle then closes with the consideration that, in Indian mythology - where the phoenix theme is very much alive - death by fire never means a final end, but is always a prelude to resurrection. The Kāma of the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas has, however, a very long history behind him, both as an abstract principle and as a divine incarnation. In a certain sense, the cosmogonic hymn of Canto 129 of the tenth maṇḍala of the Ṛgveda, as celebrated as it is mysterious, constitutes Kāma’s first archaic apotheosis. Then Non-Being did not exist, and not even Being. Aerial space did not exist, nor the firmament beyond it. What is it that moved so powerfully? And where? And controlled by whom? Was it the waters, unfathomably deep? At that time neither death, nor nondeath existed: there was no distinguishing sign for night and day. The One breathed with its own vital force, without there being breath. Beside this, nothing else existed. Originally the darkness was hidden by the darkness. This universe was nothing but an indistinct wave. Then, through the power of tapas, the One came into being, empty, covered with vacuity. Desire (kāma) was its primordial development, [Desire] that constituted the original seed of Consciousness. Inquiring within themselves, Poets knew through their reflection how to find the link of Being in Non-Being. Their cord was stretched between. What was there beneath: what was above? There were the procreators; there were powers. Inherent Power (svadhā) was beneath; Exertion (prayati) was uppermost. In truth, who knows, who could proclaim whence this secondary creation was born, whence it comes? The gods were born later, through the secondary creation of our world. But who knows whence this creation arose, whether it was He who brought it into being or not, He who watches over this world in the highest firmament, He alone knows. Or perhaps even He knows it not... 4 So long before the birth of the gods, when neither being nor non-being existed, but only darkness and chaos, there began to issue forth a ‘heat’ - tapas, i.e. that same heat that is born of and coincides with ascesis. The form that then first takes shape is that of Desire (whose heat is, moreover, the same as that of ascesis). Whereas the later brahmanic culture sought to maintain an unbridgeable opposition between desire and consciousness, in the above-quoted passage from the Ṛgveda not only are they not presented as antithetical, but desire is identified as the very matrix of consciousness and ontologically ranked before it. Amongst the many others possible, at least one second passage of Vedic literature deserves to be quoted, the so-called Hymn to Desire, in Book IX of the Atharvaveda. Kāma was born first, him neither the gods, nor the Fathers, nor men have equalled. To these art thou superior, and ever great; to thee, O Kāma, do I verily offer reverence. As
Translation partly based on Hymnes spéculatifs du Véda, traduits et annotés par L. Renou, Connaissance de l’Orient, Gallimard, Paris 1956, pp. 125-126.
great as are the heavens and earth in extent, as far as the waters have swept, as far as fire; to these art thou superior. […] Not, surely, does the wind equal Kāma, not the fire, not the sun, and not the moon. To these art thou superior. With those auspicious and gracious forms of thine, O Kāma, through which what thou willst becometh real, with these do you enter into us, and elsewhere send the evil thoughts!5
These and many other potential quotations demonstrate that the force and value of desire are deeply rooted in Indian culture from its very origins. Under the banner of ‘desire’ we place – with risky but necessary simplification – the entire human energy and drive dimension, as manifest first and foremost in sensory activities, in the emotions and passions.6 The central course of brahmanic thought, as well as the texts aimed at regulating the socio-religious dimension of the ideal Hindu man, tend to erect an absolute line of demarcation between desire-senses-passions and the intellectual-spiritual element. Consciousness must be ‘pure’ (śuddha), transparent and weightless, and any activation of the ‘desire’ pole can only muddy its necessary clarity, preventing it from being itself, from ‘functioning’.7 Statements of this kind, in brahmanic as also in Buddhist and Jaina literature, are innumerable. For its exemplary nature, as well as the consequences that derive from some of its assertions, we shall examine at least one other text belonging to the set of so-called Middle Upaniṣads (certainly prior to the Common Era), the Kaṭha-upaniṣad. The setting is a sublime and tormented dialogue between the young Naciketas and Death, to which he is driven by an imprudent statement of his father’s, the brahman Vājaśravasa. Naciketas descends to the realm of Yama, the God of Death, and goes straight to his dwelling. Yama is not at home (Death, as we know, is always extremely busy here and there) and the young man stays waiting for him on the threshold for three nights, neither eating nor drinking. On his return, Yama, admiring the young man’s constancy and austerity, grants him three wishes. For his first, Naciketas asks to return to Earth and find his father calm after his anger and well-disposed toward him; for his second, that Yama will teach him the ritual way of reaching heaven. While Yama benignly grants his first two wishes, he does everything possible, without success, to escape from the third: Naciketas
Atharvaveda IX.2.19-25. Hymns of the Atharva-Veda : together with extracts from the ritual books and the commentaries, translated by M. Bloomfield, rist. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass 1987, p. 93. 6 Here we are supported by the authority of the Bhagavadgītā which, in the verse quoted (III.40ab), states, “Of desire, the senses, the mind and the intellect are the substrate”. 7 By way of an antidote, I shall quote the strong words of Remo Bodei: “Nothing prevents us however from thinking of the “passions” (emotions, feelings, desires) as states that are not added from the outside at a zero level of indifferent consciousness, to excite and confuse it, but are ingredients of the tone of any psychic state of being and even of any cognitive orientation. […] Despite everything, the passions cannot be reduced just to conflict and mere passivity. They tint the world with lively subjective colours, accompany the unravelling of events, shake experience from inertia and monotony, and make existence flavoursome, discomfort and pain notwithstanding. Would it be worthwhile living if we felt no passion, if tenacious, invisible threads did not bind us to what – in various ways – we are ‘fond of’, whose loss we fear?” (“Nulla impedisce tuttavia di pensare le “passioni” (emozioni, sentimenti, desideri) quali stati che non si aggiungono dall’esterno a un grado zero della coscienza indifferente, per intorbidarla e confonderla, ma che sono costitutivi della tonalità di qualsiasi modo di essere psichico e persino di ogni orientamento cognitivo. […] Malgrado tutto, le passioni non si riducono però soltanto a conflitto e a mera passività. Esse tingono il mondo di vivaci colori soggettivi, accompagnano il dipanarsi degli eventi, scuotono l’esperienza dall’inerzia e dalla monotonia, rendono sapida l’esistenza nonostante disagi e dolori. Varrebbe la pena vivere se non provassimo alcuna passione, se tenaci, invisibili fili non ci avvincessero a quanto – a diverso titolo – ci sta ‘a cuore’, e di cui temiamo la perdita?”) (Geometria delle passioni: Paura, speranza, felicità: filosofia e uso politico, rist. Milano, Feltrinelli 2003, pp. 8-9). Yet again, this time referring to Spinoza: “Conditionings of all kinds mould him [man] indeed like “clay in the potter’s hands”: to escape them, without prejudice to the laws of this world, appears just as absurd and undesirable as living under an eternally serene sky” (ibid. p. 58).
asked him to reveal man’s destiny after death. Yama’s teaching essentially concerns man’s true nature as coinciding with the Universal Being, the Brahman - the path to realise it necessitates the death of desire. When all desires harboured in man’s heart have been expelled, only then can the mortal become immortal and experience the Brahman here. (V.14)8 Since the senses embody the subject’s projection toward the world, it is necessary to block their course and force them inward: The Self-Begotten Lord has pierced the cavity of the senses toward the outside, so that the individual looks outward and not within himself. But the sage, aspiring to nondeath, will turn his eye inward and see his inner self. (II.1) According to the commentator Śaṅkara, ‘pierced’ does not simply mean ‘opened’, but contains a punitive implication, an act of aggression against the senses, so as to castigate them for their impudent vitality.9 And the Kaṭha goes on: “Fools follow their desires; they fall into the snares of vast Death”. (II.2ab) In order to outline the taxonomy of man’s faculties, Yama uses an ancient simile, that of the chariot, also well-known in the West10: Know that the self is the master of the chariot, whereas the body is the chariot itself. Know that the intellect is the charioteer and the mind the reins. It is said that the senses are the steeds and the objects of the senses the tracks. (III.3-4ab) At first sight, the Kaṭha seems to set out an integrated view of the human character but, in the verses that immediately follow it, a further element emerges: the elements identified are not placed on the same level, but are subject to a rigorous hierarchy in ontological terms: Superior11 to the senses are the objects of the senses; superior to the objects of the senses is the mind; superior to the mind is the intellect; superior to the intellect is the Great Self.12 (III.10)
I refer to an edition with the commentary by Śaṅkara: Īśādidaśopaniṣadaḥ śaṅkarabhāṣyasametāḥ, Motilal Banarsidass, rist. Delhi 1978. 9 Ed. cit. p. 85. 10 In analogous terms, this motif recurs e. g. in the Platonic dialogues (Phaedo and Phaedrus). 11 The Sanskrit term para- may mean ‘superior, supreme’ and ‘other’ as well. All the ancient commentators of the Kaṭha agree in taking it in the sense of ‘superior’ in ontological terms (Śaṅkara, ed. cit. pp. 81-82, glosses it by sūkṣmatara- ‘more subtle’, meaning that it possesses a higher ontological rank. The verse of the Kaṭha will be taken up again in the Bhagavadgītā (III.42) almost literally and even in that case all the commentators take it in the same way (Śaṅkara, if possible, is even more explicit: para- means prakṛṣṭa- ‘more elevated (in the hierarchy of being)’. There is only one exception: the tantric Abhinavagupta, who in his Bhagavadgītārthasaṃgraha impassibly glosses para- by anya-: the mind is not ‘superior’ to the senses and the objects of the senses, it is only ‘different’ from them… (Śrīmadbhagavadgītā with Gītārthasaṃgraha of Abhinavagupta, edited by S. Sankaranarayan, Sri Venkateswara University Oriental Series No. 11, Tirupati 1985, p. 59). 12 Immediately after the verse quoted above, things get complicated and one realizes that the Upaniṣad is moving in an unequivocally Sāṃkhya scenario, albeit far from the form of classical Sāṃkhya. The Great Self of the previous verse is yet another intermediate dimension: “Superior to the Great Self is the Unmanifest; superior to the Unmanifest is the Spirit (puruṣa). Superior to the Spirit there is nothing. It is the deadline, the supreme goal”.
The senses have a value only to the extent to which they are dominated by the intellect and the mind: If one is not united with his intellect and his mind is not always properly subjugated, his uncontrolled senses will be for him like skittish horses for the charioteer. (III.5) Such a categorical message from the very heart of the brahmanic world leads us back antiphrastically to the Tantric text quoted in part in the Introduction. Consider what is involved when one decides to put the natural course of the mind under control, i.e. when one wishes to put a bit on a wild horse. Owing to the violence of the procedures, the mind – like the horse - will start running here and there, taking many wrong directions. Why does this occur? We all know that the mind can even delight in pain and, conversely, retreat disgusted from pleasure and knowledge. The impulses of the senses can be made to cease thanks to a highly special kind of detachment, a detachment practiced in elegant souplesse. If, on the contrary, one attempts to subjugate them, they become ungovernable in the end.13 In the background a world view is outlined, marked, as it were, by healthy realism. Instead of issuing precepts (often, as in the brahmanic śāstra, with a fair dose of wishful thinking), it prefers to accept the evidence, as least as a starting point. Significant in this connexion is what we find in a 10th-11th century treatise, the Mahānayaprakāśa “Light of the Great Method”, belonging to one of the more extreme Tantric schools, the Krama: Common experience shows us that all creatures, broadly speaking, are addicted to sex, meat and alcoholic drinking; some are more addicted to one of them, some to another. If, from the very beginning, they are asked immediately to proceed to the abandonment of all this, the teaching will not in the least take root in them. Human mind is turned towards these objects since hundreds of previous existences, and it is hardly possible to turn it away from them, just like to turn an old cow away from the fields. There is a general agreement on this: the abandoning of such things is hard to obtain, also because men would end up by hating those who put forward such a teaching. If, on the contrary, a teaching is such as preliminarily to leave their enjoyments intact, common men will adhere to it with faith.”14 The novelty of the world view proposed by Tantrism is not however condensed in this pragmatic attitude, underlying which is a profound and articulated analysis of the human character is all its complexity, accompanied by an equally penetrating and original development of the spiritual tools that can lead to its emancipation, to ‘liberation’(mokṣa). Of the many cues that Tantric literature provides, I have chosen one that seems to have central importance. Once more, we find ourselves within the Tantric world of the Śivaite school, which developed in Kashmir starting from the 8th-9th centuries of the Common Era: here,
Mālinīvijayavārttika, II.109-112. IX.4-8 prāyo hi maithune madye māṃse} ca paridṛśyate | āsaktiḥ sarvajantūnāṃ viśeṣāt kasyacit kvacit || yadi tattyāgasaṃrambhaḥ pūrvaḥ teṣāṃ vidhīyate | upadeśo na sa manāg api citte prarohati || janmāntaraśatābhyastā viśayeṣu matir nṛṇām | jaradgaur iva sasyebhyaḥ sā hi duḥkhena vāryate || iti saṃvādatas teṣāṃ parityāgo hi duṣkaraḥ | abhyasūyanti te yasmād upadeśakarāya ca || yathāsthitopabhogātma pūrvaṃ yat tūpadiśyate | tatrādhirūdhir lokasya śraddhāpūrvaḥ prajāyate || (Mahānayaprakāśa, edited by K. Sāmbaśiva Śāstrī, Trivandrum Sanskrit Series No.CXXX, Trivandrum 1937).
philosophical and aesthetic speculation and spiritual wisdom reach the highest peaks – simultaneously elegant and extreme – of Indian culture as a whole. Among the basic principles (tattva) that form the structure of the universe according to the Shaiva Tantric tradition, the group named 'kañcukas' certainly do not constitute a mere doctrinal detail among many others but the theorization, also translated into ritual, of a central point of Tantric thought, which may tell us very much on its concept of man and his life. The word kañcuka is taken for granted in all sources and no doubt belongs to a common layer of teachings. On the contrary, the same cannot be said of its meaning, the number of the kañcukas and their genesis. The two principal meanings of kañcuka , 'cuirass, armour' and 'a kind of dress, bodice' both fit the main function of these principles which is that of 'covering, sheltering' the individual soul destitute of its full powers because of maculation (a kind of innate and primordial ‘contraction’ of the spiritual substance of the soul), but the texts constantly also refer to their 'hardness' or 'force' and 'strengthening power' (udbalana). Therefore, let us say 'cuirass', which perhaps may be better assumed in an 'organic' sense, as the thick skin of an animal, that is, as something able to protect and strengthen, not being superimposed from without but being an integral part of the individual it protects. This would fit well the very tight, almost inextricable, connexion with the individual soul which the texts assign to the kañcukas, and particularly to some of them. The only one to say it explicitly is the Śaiva philosopher Rāmakaṇṭha (X-XI century) when he compares them to the snake's skin.15 Their number varies (six, five, four or three), but according to the most common conception they are five: Energy, Science, Passion, Time and Necessity. However, among them there is a group of three enjoying a privileged status, so that sometimes, as in the passage cited at the very outset, the appellation 'kañcuka' applies to them only.16 They are kalā, vidyā and rāga ‘Energy, Science, Passion’. Our considerations will be mainly devoted to them. Among the kañcukas proper, kalā (commonly translated as 'energy', '[limited] power to act') is the one which is unanimously considered the most closely linked to, or rather intertwined with, the subject - a 'second consciousness' as it were, as Bṛhaspati says.17 The individual soul, whose powers of knowledge and action have been blurred by an innate ‘maculation’ (mala), finds its deepest support in kalā, a kind of injection of basic energy (indeed, the very ‘inciting power’ of the Lord is acting in it), which, at least partially, revives the powers of the soul. An objection comes spontaneously to one's mind: why does the Lord's power not intervene directly but resorts, in order to release the soul, to something which is in itself a bond? This objection indirectly reveals the paradoxical nature of kalā, and of human dimension as a whole. The scriptures reply that the intervention of the Lord's power would entail the immediate manifestation of the soul's powers in their fullest glory, namely liberation, whilst the question here is to fit out the soul for its worldly adventure, to which the ripeness of mala and the karmic impulses direct it. As in the nice simile found in a Śaivasiddhānta text, kalā is like the club Śiva (or the guru) makes use of in order to waken the adept, who would
Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama (Vidyāpāda), avec le commentaire de Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha, édition critique par N.R. Bhatt, Publications de l'Institut Français d'Indologie No.56, Pondichéry 1977, p. 334. 16 Cf. e. g. Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama (Vidyāpāda), cit., XIV.2: "Permeated by the triad of the cuirasses, softly pushed by Time, enveloped by Necessity, this principle proceeds with the quality of 'individual soul', pertaining to the Self." 17 Of Bṛhaspati, the old śaiva master (certainly earlier than the 10th c.), no work has come down to us. The above sentence is quoted by Abhinavagupta in Tantrāloka (IX.208c) and by Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha in his commentary on Mṛgendra-tantra (Mṛgendratantra, vidyāpāda and yogapāda) with commentary of Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha, edited by Madhusudan Kaul Shastri, KSTS L, Bombay 1930, p. 208).
not be able to stand his direct touch.18 Kalā and individual soul (aṇu) can never be seen separate from one another, they seem one single entity. "Just as a clay pot, once heated by fire, can absorb shellac, so the anu, permeated by kalā, can receive the fruitions obtained by him with great joy".19 And again: "Kalā brings about fruition and is the abode of the individual soul. Resting on kalā, imbued with karma, the individual soul cannot leave it anymore and becomes attached more and more."20 But if kalā is the most internal and important factor leading the soul towards the world of experience, it is not the only one however. "Just as, by virtue of its swelling, due to union with substances such as water or the sun's heat, fire becomes the cause of the sprout's birth, so kalā is the cause of the union with Science and of the awakening brought about by Passion with a view to promoting the fruition in the soul."21 In the soul made active by kalā, the process of knowledge cannot take place yet owing to the lack of a specific instrument. The latter cannot be represented by the senses or the mind (buddhi), since they do not figure in all kinds of knowledge; the mind itself, though having a role of its own in all forms of everyday life, is not able to cognize itself. Since it fully belongs to the material world, it is not enabled to be anything more than a mirror in which equally material things are reflected. Vidyā 'Science' is the necessary link between the knowing subject - exclusively represented by the aṇu - and object images. Everything is now ready for the subject to begin having experiences, but for a factor, subtly noted by the Śaiva scriptures, the absence of which would make the entire process actually motionless or merely virtual: the desire to have experiences, the longing for them. Or, as the Mṛgendra-tantra (vidyāpāda, X.11) puts it, now the soul can cognize objects thanks to the manifestation of the power of consciousness, but he does not turn to seize them; for this reason, the Lord creates rāga. Rāga 'attachment, passion, affection, the fact of being coloured by emotions' is the last of the three cuirasses proper. In fact, it is difficult if not impossible to establish an absolute priority of order between rāga and vidyā (passion and knowledge), that is, to say whether he who knows then desires or vice-versa, so intimately do they refer to each other. As Abhinavagupta says in his vast commentary on the most important philosophical text of Śaiva Tantrism, ‘The stanzas on the recognition of the Lord’, referring to the kañcukas as a whole: "These cuirasses mingle with each other, in the sense that they support each other in their functions. They are like the various flavours and ingredients in a sweet."22
Cit. in V.A. Devasenapathi, Śaiva Siddhānta as expounded in the Śivajñāna-siddhiyār and its commentaries, University of Madras, Madras 1960, p. 47. The simile is likely to come from Śivāgrayogin’s commentary on the Śivajñāna-siddhiyār. 19 Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama, vidyāpāda, IX.28-29. 20 Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama, vidyāpāda, IX.28-29a and 31cd-32. 21 Rāmakaṇṭha’s commentary on Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama, vidyāpāda, IX.11cd et seq. (p. 298). 22 Abhinavagupta, Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛtivimarśinī, edited by Madhusudan Kaul Shastri, vols. I-III, KSTS LX LXII LXV, Bombay 1938-43; vol. III, p. 292.
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